My friends tell me not to worry, the Internet will not affect local merchants nor cause them to shut down their stores on Main Street America. All they have to do is get their own Web sites and start hawking the goods online. Then you can shop with those local storekeepers from the convenience of your own home.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the Internet is the great equalizer, making it possible for the little guys to compete with the big guys. Huh? The reality is the Web Universe favors the well-known brands and many of the little guys will be left sucking wind. It's about convenience, price and elimination of the middleman. Eventually it will be about price. And the big-buck players with the established brands have the Web savvy, logistics systems and price leverage to beat all comers.
But what do I know about the effect of technology on society? I resisted the move to ATM machines because I felt they represented one more step in depersonalizing business. I held out for several years until my favorite bank teller retired and moved to Florida. Now I am an ATM man.
And I resisted voicemail because I believed it was a communist plot to make it impossible for me to ever talk directly to a real person again.
In the good old days my business friends not only took the time to answer their phones, they also made time to have lunch, talk a little business, share family stories and enjoy the experience. But most of those friends are now doing the work of two people and they are under constant time pressure to get things done yesterday. When you're putting in 10-hour days it's tough to justify an hour for lunch with a friend.
Now we live in a menu-driven voicemail world and communicate without ever talking to a real person directly. I liked lunch better.
How did we survive in those simpler times before ATMs, voicemail and online shopping? Were they really the good old days?
When Frank isn't fretting about e-commerce, ATM machines and e-mail he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.